RSS has been much maligned of late but still remains one of the easiest and most convenient ways of keeping in touch with breaking news and subscribing to new content on your favourite websites and blogs.
Social Media Today, summed up RSS very well here: “using RSS in combination with Google Reader can be a very powerful option if you do content curation or disseminate information to a determined audience. I use RSS very actively as my primary channel for receiving information instead of having to remember every site I have to visit every day to get news.”
RSS Still A Killer App
There has been talk that Twitter and Facebook are replacing RSS as a key broadcaster of news, but thats something of an over statement, RSS is still a key app for me as I curate/read an extensive array of news feeds daily and Twitter is still way too ‘noisy’.
Subscribing to a specific RSS feed in Google Reader is still the best way, at least for me, to stay on top of any key developments in my field of choosing and certainly in the SEO, Search and Social Media field there isn’t a key name out there that isn’t blogging and syndicating that blog with an RSS feed. Fact.
RSS enables me to skim hundreds of article headlines in minutes enabling me to click only on those that are of key interest to me. This would highlight the importance of writing those killer article titles too!
My RSS Toolbox of Choice
I use the Chrome browser pretty much exclusively these days and there’s a couple of browser extensions I use that enhance my usage of RSS and my content curation in general.
RSS Subscription Extension adds one-click subscription to your toolbar and shows the familiar orange RSS subscription icon when a RSS feed is detected on the website you’re browsing making it an easy click and go to subscribe to a feed.
Postponer Manager is a pair of extensions that add extra function to Pocket (aka Read It Later). The Postponer Adder adds an icon next to every article in your Google Reader to add it to your reading list.
So, if you’re short on attention span or time you can simply click on the Adder icon next to the article you’re interested in, in your reader and the post will be saved automagically on your Pocket page for you to return to and read at leisure. Lifesaver! Sign up free here.
Feedly is basically a news curation plugin of sorts and syncs with your Google Reader to become your ‘Social News Reader’. Basically it does what services like Paper.li and Twylah do to your Twitter feed, turns them into personalised newspapers from content you’ve collected yourself (in this case from your collection of RSS feeds).
I’ve kind of moved away from desktop RSS readers simply because my reader is so busy it was using 70% of system resources at times and slowing everything else down! Not everyone is an ‘info freako’ like me and if you do want to read offline too then Feed Demon is about as good as it gets and syncs with Google reader too. Brill.
Your OPML Starter Kit!
Acronyms you’ve never heard of? We got em! OPML is, in laymans terms is a portable data format with the most common usage being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators. So.
Here’s a quick and easy lesson in how you can use it to move your collection of feeds around (or indeed back them up). I try and export my list of feeds from my Google Reader account monthly at least, then if for some (unlikely) reason my reader settings get corrupted I can simply re-import my original list.
To export your OPML list of feeds (which is actually a very small text file so its quite practical to share via email) in Google Reader go to Reader Settings, then the Import/Export tab then right click and download under OPML download (natch!).
If you have a specific category and want to grab just that collection of feeds, you’d click on the subscriptions title then ‘Folder Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Create a Bundle’ then save. You can see my collections below with several sharing options.
You can grab the OPML and download, email to your friends, get the HTML to post your collection as a widget in your blog or simply add the bundle as a link on your website.
Getting Started With Stuff to Read!
Lets assume you already have a Google reader account (and if you use GMail then you do). Here’s three OPML (XML) files for you to download from my own RSS reader account.
After you’ve saved one or all of the files, fire-up your reader of choice and go to reader settings, then Import/Export and it’ll ask you to import your subscriptions, select an OPML file>Choose File>Upload and done. You’ll now see your categorised folder in your reader and you have more to read now than you can possibly manage!
Do comment below if you use any particular reader, RSS tool or browser extension that hasn’t got a mention here (and there is many!).
OK, so you’ve fallen for all the Pinterest hype and you’ve signed up and got started, now what? I hunted down some of the better resources, tools and how-to’s from the Interwebs and tried to sort through the avalanche to target the best and most useful that’ll help you get the most out of your Pinning. Just in case you’ve been slacking, here’s the official FAQs page if you’re still playing catch up!
“Pinterest is completely visually driven. Unlike other social networks that are focused on what you’re doing right now, Pinterest concentrates more on what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to build in the future”. Thought Matrix
First Things First. Tune Up Those Images
One of the main things to remember, and one of the ‘rules’ you should stick by is the (my label!) ‘attribution etiquette rule’, that is, giving credit to where you sourced that pinned image from. That means it shouldn’t be as lazy as doing a Google image search and pinning what you find from the search giant.
A browser plugin (for Chrome) I swear by, which streamlines my image searching ten fold is the Tin Eye reverse image search tool, which works by adding an extra search option when you right click on any image in your browser. Click search and off it goes to find alternate sources and sizes of the image you’re looking at.
Pin Search is another simple but extremely useful browser plugin which adds an extra button onto the Pinterest page you’re browsing. ‘Search’ appears underneath the default three options of Repin, Edit and Comment when you hover over an image in Pinterest, zipping off to search Google images to dig out more options on the image you’re interested in.
I always try and remember to click through directly to the source of the pinned image before re-pinning just to make sure it doesn’t take me off somewhere it shouldn’t (spammy framed redirect-affiliate links was a recent experience).
The Pinterest Pin It button (from Shareaholic) is another essential I use daily and if there is something sleeker and more feature packed, I have yet to stumble across it. It does what it says on the tin, “the easiest way to send images from any website to your pinboards”. Either click the button or right click on the image. Simple’s
One more on the Pinterest browser plugins that I use. Share As Image Pro (until recently known as PinAQuote) lets you highlight text anywhere on the web and easily convert it into an image and post as a nicely coloured Pin. So, good for all those classic inspirational quotes and snippets of wisdom we all love so much. The ($2.99) Pro version lets you customise the text and background colours you pin. Worth it.
There’s an increasing amount of Chrome browser extensions for Pinterest and you’ll find all the official Pinterest tools on the Goodies page. These include a simple browser bookmarklet, follow and Pin It buttons for websites and the official iOS Pinterest App.
Calculate Your Pinfluence !
This is probably as irrelevant as Klout scores (CNN Money had a piece called ‘ Why Klout scores are possibly evil’ last year) but Pinreach is actually a quite useful mixture of ‘influence’ and analytics. The fledgling service analyses your popular boards by using repin numbers and shuffles the data from your boards via repins, likes, followers, pins and comments. You can also get data on your most popular repins.
Its great for gaining some quick insight and stats as to what is working best on your profile and for calculating which board needs more work.. You get a PR (Pinreach) score out of 100 (much like Klout) though I found Pinreach to be of much more relevance than Klout.
Pinerly I haven’t yet got access too, but Mashable have (natch!) but ploughs a similar furrow to Pinreach but with more onus on running Pinterest marketing campaigns. Pinpuff is another of what they’re calling Pinfluence tools, along the lines of Klout, with the promise of ‘pinperks’ but other than that looks very similar to Pinreach.
Pinterest, Meet WordPress
When I last looked there was already 86 different Pinterest plug-ins for WordPress bloggers to add to their websites. Naturally, one will be enough for your site, which one depends on your own preferences but the majority of them simply give you the ability to display activity from your Pinterest account either in your sidebar with a drag n drop widget or via short codes, which let you add activity to pages and posts.
I looked and tried a few here on BzzzSocial and settled on the ‘Pinterest RSS Widget’ which enables you to display thumbnails of your Pinterest general feed (or a specific pinboard) in your sidebar and also the ability to add feeds to any posts and pages using short-codes.
Pipped into second place was ‘Pinterest Pinboard Widget‘ which displays some very nicely laid out thumbnails in your sidebar of your activity but unfortunately (as yet) no ability to display from specific pinboards which was the clincher for me. If you just want to display action from all your boards in one neat looking display this is the way to go.
‘Pretty Pinterest Pins’ was my weapon of choice initially but display size options were limited with no thumbnail square option which meant the pins took up much more space in the sidebar. Other than that it allows you to choose from specific pinboards, item count etc.
The neatest (at least for me here) social sharing WordPress plugin at the moment is Digg Digg, which gives you several options to share content, including ‘Pinning’. You can display buttons above or below content or choose the floating social sharing bar (which you can view next to this post). Similar to the one used by Mashable no less. Easy to set up, modify and looks great.
Pinterest, Where’s The RSS?
The Sociable have a great guide on how to pull in RSS feeds from specific Pinterest Pinboards so I wont ramble on repeating what they’ve done so well.
” Following a specific board created by a user via RSS is less obvious. If you visit a user’s Pinterest Board you’ll see that there are no links to subscribe to that board’s RSS feed. But you can still generate a feed for it. To do this, first open the board (e.g. Felicia Day’s Geekin Board), then, Remove the last “/” from the URL and add .rss – your end URL will look like http://pinterest.com/feliciaday/geekin.rss ” read the full post at The Sociable…
12 More of the Most Useful Pinterest Articles from this Year
Shopify Survey: Pinterest Users Spend 2X More (PinnableBusiness.com) Ecommerce store platform Shopify just released numbers on the profitability of Pinterest for their shop owners. They looked at over 25,000 Shopify online stores to see how Pinterest drives sales. The results are dramatic.
The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest for Marketing (HubSpot) As with any hot new social network that comes onto the scene, marketers are chiming in with, “Can I use it for marketing?” “…and, how?” The short answer? Absolutely. The longer answer? Read on to find out how.
20 Awesome Tools Which Will Have you ‘Pinteresting’ Like a Pro (The Next Web) With such an active community, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of other interesting tools, apps, and sites which aim to enhance the Pinterest experience beyond the Follow Button and Pin It button which can easily be installed on any website.
16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest (Infographic) (Mashable) OnlineUniversities.com have put together an infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation.
56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest (CopyBlogger) Think those inspiring vision boards don’t result in referral traffic to websites and blogs? Think again. In January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube — combined.
Pinterest Marketing Tips & Tricks to Drive Targeted Traffic(Search Engine Watch) Having little experience beyond personal playing around on it, my view was that Pinterest was shaping up to be a fun toy, but had little value for marketers. Of course, I love to be proven wrong when someone can bring the numbers to back up their experience with a new “toy.” Steve Gerencser from Steam Driven Media did just that.
Why Online Marketers Better Get An Interest In Pinterest, Fast (Forbes) A few months ago I wrote of the need for brand managers to get “pinterested” due to the fact that women, AKA the one responsible for the majority of household purchase decisions has “developed an affinity for the latest and greatest social media platform.” It would also appear that those in the e-commerce world better also get “pinterested” if they have not already.
The Ultimate Pinterest Guide for Your Online Store (Shopify) The whirlwind of excitement that surrounds Pinterest provides online store owners a great opportunity to leverage it’s popularity (and overall awesomeness) to bring attention to their online store. Whether you’re already setup on Pinterest or you’re a complete newbie, this is a guide that will teach you the basics, and also help the more experienced pinners get the most from this popular social media platform.